So Far so Good!
I flew from Gatwick at 1410 & arrived at Marrakech around five, I think. I wasn't sure whether I had a transfer or not, but didn't see anyone in the hall with my name or the name of the hotel (Oudaya), so figured I didn't. A quick squizz at the guide book & I knew that 50 dihrams was a fair price for a taxi, & after some haggling/arguing managed to get a shared one for 40 - did well, I reckon. The ATM had given me 100 notes (16 to the pound), and after more arguing I managed to get the right change - the driver had had a shouting match with the other passengers before dropping me off, also someone on the phone, so I had no qualms about shouting at him when he tried to short change me.
French and (Moroccan) Arabic appear to be interchangable here - I've heard Moroccans speak to each other in both languages - but as a tourist I am addressed mostly in French; shame I can't speak the language. I may live nearer to France than London, but all I have is a smattering of schoolgirl French that is sadly insufficient. That said, I've been pleasantly surprised to find quite a number of useful words popping into my head; considerably less manage to exit my mouth intact, but there's some hope - who knows, maybe I'll be fluent by the end of the week! So far I'm muddling through with a confused mixture of French, Arabic & made-up foreign-sounding words. Typically, my limited Spanish vocabulary seems to be pushing itself to the front of my mind.
The Hotel Oudaya is very nice - nicer than I'm used to, that's for sure! It appears to be two, almost separate hotels, joined via a poolside walkway (reviews on the Internet complained bitterly about the arctic temperature of the water, but night swimming is strictly prohibited, so I have no first-hand experience as yet). I've a twin room, nicely decorated, with air con and TV (all the mod cons! BBC World is the only English-speaking channel), and asked when I checked in if I could have one with a balcony (another tip from the net).
Once I'd settled it was after seven, so I decided not to venture too far. I'd read online that there was a supermarket nearby, so got directions there & stocked up on water, and wandered around a little, to get my bearings and appreciate the fact that I am abroad. It's amazing how quickly I slipped into Indian-mode - head up, eyes down, arms popping up defensively if anyone strays too close - although it soon became evident that these measures were unnecessary. So far it seems pretty hassle-free - a few catcalls, & I'm aware of men looking at me, but nothing to perturb me as yet. I am of course covered wrist to ankle. I was also surprised at how easily I returned to walking slowly - I've not been able to do that since becoming a postie, but an aimless stroll seemed most natural.
I had a bland four-cheese panini and two banana juices at a cafe round the corner, then sauntered back to write this up (didn't think to bring a journal/notebook...mind you, not been motivated to write since I went hi-tech). Tired now, so I think I'll crash.
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